Social media has enabled advertisers, marketers, and public/investor relations professionals to engage communities, not audiences, in real-time. Putting down the traditional media bullhorn has enabled social media-savvy businesses to forge deeper and more meaningful relationships than ever before.
Add the glory of social media measurement to the mix, and you have a recipe for going beyond mindless repetitive tactical execution, and establishing a social media data-driven revenue-making machine. Although opportunities are ripe and plentiful if you know where to look, determining and prioritizing actionable insights from an enormous data store of information is a constant challenge.
One of the first things you do as a social media marketing manager is set up alerts related to mentions of your brand, products, partners, or affiliations. Social media is less about who yells loudest, and more about engaging in conversation.
If you're just starting out, one of your first duties is to assume the identity of "online spokesperson" for your brand. The easiest place to start engaging with your community is on your home turf: speaking about your company.
- Take action: Search engines and free tools such as Google Alerts can help you find brand mentions quite easily, but may not afford you the ability to filter results based on influence, authority, sentiment, or reach. This is where paid social media monitoring tools such as Sysomos or Radian6 come in handy. When dealing with larger brands and thousands of mentions, it helps to begin your outreach with negative sentiment from the highest authorities in social media, and then slowly whittle down the list.
- Example: if I worked for Southwest Airlines, and I wanted to monitor negative (or positive) comments on new routes opened up to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and I knew I was going after the lucrative young professional crowd competing with youth-oriented carriers like Virgin, my weekly alert filters might look something like this:
Social media monitoring tools are a lot like pay-per-click advertising platforms. Sometimes it's as easy as selecting the keywords you know will generate leads and tracing mentions of those words back to interested members of the social media community. When purchase intent isn't obvious, you'll want to hone in on conversion funnel keywords that communities may use en route to a purchasing decision.
- Take action: Monitor core business-related keyword mentions across social media platforms and engage communities with conversation and information, but hold the outright sales pitch, unless asked/appropriate. Introduce yourself or your brand to those individuals high up in the decision-making process, and attempt to pitch those who are ready to buy. Remember, more individuals will mention non-specific terms; ensure your efforts are aligned to your brand's specific goals (sales support vs. lead generation).
- Insider tip: filter on "anyone know" or "ne1 know" plus your keywords and you should find a slew of people that could use your help.
- Example: If I worked for Verizon or AT&T, and wanted to engage people interested in finding the right cell phone, I might approach users who ask questions or mention the word "cell phone" and help with their purchasing decision. Because "cell phone" is very high in the conversion funnel, I wouldn't bother pitching a specific phone to anyone using that term, but I would be honest and helpful so that when they were ready, trust in my brand would have been already established. However, people mentioning descriptive and specific keywords such as "smart phone" and "android phone" are probably much further down the decision-making process, and more easily pitched, if approached courteously and professionally.
Depending on your level of comfort in social media measurement, you may find yourself applying what you learn online to develop your business, especially if you already offer products or services related to advertising or marketing, public relations, investor relations, or creative agency. Almost every tool, free or paid, will offer some data portability via API that you can weave into sophisticated applications and reporting capabilities to enrich your brand's value proposition.
- Take action: Apply context to web analytics reporting by including social media measurement metrics such as mentions, reach, percentage sentiment, and share of voice. Go one step beyond data puking and attempt to correlate positive brand mentions, community engagement, and total reach with revenue numbers. Compare your analytics to your competition's brand and show how much smarter/cooler/successful you are.
- Example: If I worked for an agency and already offered clients a number of kickass web analytics reports relating to their digital assets, I could potentially win additional business or upsell more robust reporting and consulting services related to social media engagement with the help of social media monitoring tools. At the very minimum, tools such as Sysomos Heartbeat can be white-labeled and resold.
If your brand is in a B2C vertical, reserving a Twitter handle is probably all that's required to start generating a few negative customer service comments pointed directly at you. Very few brands do a stellar job of traditional customer service, but many brands have started jumping on the social media bandwagon to reduce costs.
Brands that take customer service to the next level, such as General Motors (@GM_joe) and Adobe Omniture (@omniturecare and once @benjamingaines), do their best to not only engage individuals that call out their brands directly, but participate in events and shared interests to further the knowledge base and communication of their community and industry.
- Take action: Use social media monitoring tools to determine your key social media demographics. Are most of your brand enthusiasts located in distinct regions in the U.S. and Canada? Do your followers attend tradeshows, tweetups, virtual summits, or Twitter chats? Find out, meet people, be social, and engage your customer service team with their community. Connect with influencers in those communities, and build advocates that may relieve your team of some of the burden of reaching the entire community on it's own.
These are just a handful of potential applications that can help you make the most of social media monitoring tools. As always, we're interested to hear how you use social media measurement and monitoring tools to complement your analytics reporting and provide actionable insights, so feel free to leave me a comment below.